Why You Should Watch ‘Wandering Soul’ — A Ghost Story Set During The Vietnam War
A dark stain on America’s national consciousness is its involvement in the Vietnam War.
To this day, the reasons and justifications for the involvement of the United States in the war remain hotly debated.
The Vietnam War remains a controversial and polarizing event that required enormous personal sacrifice of the men and women in the military who served there – as well as from their families and loved ones they left behind in the United States. The loss of American life was catastrophic and the cost to the nation was astronomical.
Iconic films such as Apocalypse Now, Platoon, Hamburger Hill, and Full Metal Jacket dissect and examine the dehumanizing horrors that war and the deep emotional, physical, and psychological scars inflicted on the veterans who served.
The war’s effects on the Vietnamese people have rarely been explored in cinema.
Recently, I was contacted by an Australian filmmaker named Josh Tanner about a short film he has just released. He wanted to inquire if I would consider including his latest project on my site, The7thMatrix.com, where independent SFF short films and web series are highlighted.
Without hesitation, I agreed to give the short, entitled Wandering Soul, a viewing.
It is one of the best SFF short films I have seen so far in 2019.
Wandering Soul is a ghost story based on actual events that occurred during the Vietnam War. The short is the story of two Viet Cong soldiers who are attempting to evade American forces by cloistering in tunnels under the district of Cu Chi.
When they are forced to abort a traditional burial ceremony for one of their fallen comrades, they begin experiencing a series of blood-chilling, eerie phenomena.
Giving away more of the plot would involve revealing major spoilers, but Wondering Soul is a remarkable short film due to the outstanding performances of the cast and the filmmaker’s fastidious research of the time period and culture of the natives.
For example, the short’s cast is Australian-Vietnamese and all dialogue is spoken in Vietnamese with English subtitles. Tanner also used consultants to make sure certain pivotal details depicted in the short — most notably the Vietnamese burial ceremony — are portrayed as accurately as possible.
However, the main achievement of Wandering Soul is it succeeds in reflecting the horrors of war through a perspective rarely centered onscreen — that of the Vietnamese.
It is important for me to state the short film does not make any moral judgements about the war. What it does accomplish is reaffirm the truth that war is hell — for all involved.